Monday, December 22, 2008

Health Nuttiness

For the past couple days, I've had this slight feeling that I'm on the verge of getting sick. There's been that tickle in the back of my throat and the inkling that my body is preparing to ward off whatever is slowing starting to attack. I must be doing something right, though, (or else I've been blessed with a naturally strong immune system), because I don't remember the last time I was sick...and I really don't plan to be any time soon.
I'm still feeling okay, so I hope this "pre-sick feeling" doesn't progress any further. I've been popping additional zinc, Vitamin C, and Echinacea, just to be sure. I will admit, I'm a bit of a health nut, and I have been for quite a while. I take a few supplements and I'm very conscious of many things regarding my health. The honest truth is that I strongly want my teeth & hair to be strong, I hope to "age well," I want to feel continually healthy & aware, and I don't want to be plagued with any problems that I can knowingly prevent.

I know that writing about nutrition and what I eat may not seem like it fits in with this topic of "living in a van." Actually, I think it fits very well: When you live in a van, you pretty much have to be conscious of your health, because admit it - It would be downright miserable to be sick and have to lay around inside your vehicle. No fun whatsoever. Plus, if you get sick & live in your vehicle, you'd better find yourself a good parking space, because you are probably not going to feel like driving around very much. I want to live a very long, healthy, and happy life. I want others that I care about to do the same. I deem "what you put into your body" (especially when you are living on the road) to be a very important topic.

I love reading, and I am always in the middle of one book or another. I am currently between pages in two terrific ones, and it is surely no surprise that they are regarding health (perhaps becoming a nutritionist would be right up my alley):

"In Defense of Food - An Eater's Manifesto," by Michael Pollan
"Cure Tooth Decay - Heal & Prevent Cavities with Nutrition," by Ramiel Nagel

Both are excellent books, really making me think about how the American Diet today is so different from the diet of our great grandparents. We are living in an age of obesity, where people are now trying way too-hard to eat "right," when all we really have to do is eat "real food." People are eating so many "low-fat" products & "zero-calorie" caffeine drinks that are loaded with chemically-altered fake-sweeteners that are causing cancer, not to mention other things. I believe Michael Pollan sums it up perfectly, by saying, "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants."

I have read so many articles and books regarding nutrition, trying to figure out the best of all the information out there. It is quite a task, trying to pull the best aspects out of different diets (Adkins Diet, Abs Diet, Juice Fasts, Raw-Foodism, Vegan, Vegetarian, High-Fat, Low-Fat...) and create the ultimate diet for yourself, without becoming an obsessive health freak. :-) There are hundreds of supplements people can take, and certain ones supposedly need certain others to help them absorb properly, etc. What a mess! Ideal health shouldn't be so complicated, although, at this point, I really don't think it is.

I guess I consider myself to be semi-vegetarian with raw-foodist & vegan tendencies - I do eat fish, chicken, turkey, and beef, BUT no pork or pasteurized dairy products for me. I also believe that it is ok to eat small amounts of ANYTHING, as long as it is 100% "real" food. I am getting to the point where I don't want to eat anything that contains ingredients that I can't read out-loud, don't know what they are, or have never heard of. I won't go near hydrogenated oils, "low-fat" products, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, splenda...), margarine, or anything that has been chemically altered. I don't eat things that are man-made. I will never own a microwave again or use one to heat my food (stove-tops, ovens, or over a fire will work just fine). I prefer to eat eggs that only come from cage-free, grass-fed chickens. There are lots of little things like that that I believe in... Things just used to be so different "back in the day," they farmed differently, certain diseases & cancers weren't as much of a problem, and people weren't eating the packaged food-like products that are sold today. I am using the method of trying the best that I can to eat only things that my great-great grandmother would most-likely recognize as actual food.

I do love the taste of food, so I do eat a variety when I can. I do not just eat salads and vitamins. Lately (for convenience & storage reasons) I've mostly been eating non-perishables like peanuts, apples, shredded wheat with almond milk, turkey-jerky, PB & Jam sandwiches, and goji-berry/pine-nut trail mix, but today I had a whole-grain bagel with real butter (cream & salt) and a piece of grilled salmon (on a bed of veggies) from the natural-food store nearby. I really am not a fan of taking supplements, but I do take a couple (and they make me feel terrific, not to sound like an infomercial): A multi-vitamin, cod-liver oil, a chocolate calcium chew, and spirulina. I also love wheatgrass juice, whenever I can find it.

I know that everyone eats differently, and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. I am also constantly changing-up my diet, since I love lots of different foods, and, lets be realistic here, I live in my van. Many of my favorite things can't be easily made inside a van, so visiting with friends is an ideal situation for utilizing their kitchen and whipping up those things that you've been missing out on. In my case, that would include making some delicious cabbage rolls, baking a little home-made granola, cooking up a pot of steaming white-chicken chili, or blending up some powerful green smoothies. In fact, back when I was drinking a green-smoothie every day, my hair and skin were the healthiest that they have ever been in my entire life. The power of greens is truly amazing.
I think what I really miss most is having a kitchen. I have always loved to bake & cook things from scatch. (It's never been Betty Crocker cake-mixes for me!)... In storage, I've still got my bread-machine, my food dehydrator, and my soy-milk maker, all of which used to get many hours of use. They are patiently waiting for my return. Someday I'm sure we will be re-united, but until then, I will just enjoy where my time takes me without them.

Back in my old apartment, this was my first attempt at making a green smoothie (Peaches & Parsley (or was it Spinach?) in this particular one, and it tasted wonderful!!). Obviously it was my first attempt, as I didn't realize I was putting in way too much...

Another green smoothie, but this one was made in my brother's kitchen, while I was living in my van & parked in his driveway... Mmm. They really aren't disgusting at all, even though you might be tempted to think so:



Reamus said...

A LITTLE bit of a heath nut! You have to be kidding!

Latest AMA Journal article on Echinacea show no effacacious reasons to take it...particularly if you think it will improve your memory. (Try a Google)

Why no mircrowave?

Wheat grass is the most disgusting thing I have ever drunk/eaten, but to each his or her own...Ha!

Hope you stay heathy. I "eat" seven vitamins--lots of C in there and E too-- a day and haven't had a cold in years...but traveling will make it hard to avoid germs, viral in be ready.

Nomad said...

Are you looking at getting a slightly bigger van, for a decent kitchen?

I like the idea of no microwave. In my opinion they have a detrimental effect on the taste of food and other heat sources work perfectly well. It has been several years since I stopped using microwaves, though that was because I didn't want to spend the money on one, I have found I prefer not to have one now.

Kristen's Raw said...

I love green smoothies!

Cheers and Happy Holidays,


Echinacea - Some studies say it makes colds go away faster. I personally only took it because it just happened to be the other ingredient in my Zinc/Vitamin C drops.

Microwaves - I actually recommend doing an Internet search to decide for yourself. They haven't been around long enough to really KNOW the long-term effects of using one. They don't heat your food in a natural manner, and I am just trusting my gut instinct with it. I don't actually ever need a microwave (especially since I don't like pre-packaged microwaveable products), anyway, so why have one? Many people, including myself, don't like how their food tastes after microwaving it. I much prefer to re-heat leftovers on a stove or over a fire. That is a natural method that people have been doing for many, many years. It is proven that it's harmful to microwave foods & baby bottles in plastic containers, because it releases some type of hormone, among other things. When there are so many possible negatives associated with microwaving my food, I just don't care to risk it when I don't need one anyway. Like I said, I just trust my gut instint on that one.

Wheat-grass Juice - It tastes awesome! Sweet like sweet-peas...

On having a decent kitchen - I guess I will just wait and see on that one, since I'm not really sure. I do miss many of my kitchen gadgets, but I really like my tiny little home. I don't really want a bigger van. Ultimately, I'm striving to have my own little plot of land. Then I can just have a little storage shed for my extra stuff and a nice stove/oven outside.

Green Smoothies - They are the best! :)

diane said...
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diane said...
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Hi Diane,
Nope, I actually haven't tried powdered greens. I have thought about it, and I think they are a really terrific idea, especially when you're in a van. The only reason I haven't tried them is because of the cost. They seem to be quite expensive! Lately I have just been buying inexpensive veggies at local farm markets, eating them up quickly so they don't go bad (raw, plain or in salads), and chewing them up as best as I can (since I don't have a blender here with me) :-)

diane said...
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Diane, I went to the site & it sounds great! I would really love to try it sometime, It is right up my alley. You dinner sounds identical to what I like to eat :) Yummy stuff. I had wild rice for my dinner, last night, along with some fresh veggie sushi rolls. Mm. There is not much that is better than eating good, raw, whole foods.

diane said...
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